February 20, 2003

An Altered State of Mind

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Musical energy, although a term not officially recognized by the Encyclopedia of Energy Science, can be defined as a vitality and intensity of expression. Unlike its kinetic brother and magnetic sister, musical energy alters the human psyche. Submerging myself in repetitive note clusters of trance combined with improvisatory methods of “jam-band” rock, I experienced this alteration.

No, this was not a drug-induced experience, but rather a live performance of The New Deal at Castaways this past Thursday. This Canadian trio composed of keyboardist, Jamie Shields, bassist, Dan Kurtz, and drummer, Darren Shearer engulfed the audience in an atmosphere of “natural THC.”

The New Deal transforms man into machine through the re-creation of electronic dance music. Live, improvised instrumentation infuses elements of house and breakbeat with traditional jazz and funk, distinctly setting this group apart from an ordinary DJ produced sound.

With the first beat, the room fell black as a cryptic green light shone on stage. From this light grew the silhouettes of three musicians, identifiable only by their sound. As this “progressive breakbeat house,” a description coined by The New Deal, came into being, the room grew brighter revealing the source of this addictive pulse. My curiosity and fascination drew me closer toward the stage, where I witnessed collaboration at its best. Utilizing their own language consisting of hand signals and the like, Jamie, Dan, and Darren “spoke” to each other. This precise cohesion along with their enduring stamina proved The New Deal to not only be talented but also professional. Prior to this transcendent experience, The New Deal’s, Dan Kurtz, graciously took the time to speak with me for a pre-show interview.

daze: What does “The New Deal” mean to you?

Dan Kurtz: I know that when I listen to something that we played, it sounds only like us, and that is the best statement of any band. It certainly, in that way, is the deal